The Recipe for Grape Leaves
It was passed down to my grandmother from her nanny. Her nanny is Lebanesse and only speaks Arabic. Its made mostly for family gatherings for any big family occasion or holiday. The outer leaves are actual grape leaves. They are stuffed with lamb and beef. They are mixed with some spice which is called (tries to spell it) Burroh I think its spelled. There is also a lemony butter sauce that is poured over them as well. They are usually stuffed with ground meat that is put into the leaves and rolled. Then you place the rolled leaves into a pot with a little water, and steam them on the stove. After they are steamed, they lemony butter sauce is poured over them. They are also good cold.
She said, Me I love them, theyre my favorite food really. I feel that its really authentic. Ive also heard of them being Greek but they are stuffed with something else.
I think that personally, this dish sounds delicious. It may have been an instance of monogenesis, and diffusion as both Lebanon and Greece are in the Mediterranean. So it is very possible that the recipes are similar, and that they are stuffed with different meats. Maybe they were stuffed with different meat based solely on what was available in the area that the food was being prepared. Both places had grape leaves so the recipe was easy to make. I hypothesize that once people became accustomed to cooking them with certain meat it is quite possible that the geographical differences in the recipes stuck.
I did some research on the origin of these two different recipes. About.com has an article on Dolmathakia me Kima or stuffed grape leaves with meat and rice. Recipezaar.com has a recipe listed as Lebanese Grape Leaves. Both dishes are served with sides of rice, and as well are used as an appetizer. In addition both dishes include the use of lemon juice as an important seasoning that is added. The main difference however is the meat that the two separate dishes are stuffed with. The Lebanese version is stuffed with ground lamb, and the Greek version is stuffed with ground beef. In addition, on the online versions, there are interesting spices that are listed. In the Greek version a tablespoon of fresh mint is supposed to be used, while in the Lebanese version, a half tablespoon of cinnamon is used. Considering the similarities, this dish could have very likely been a product of monogenesis and diffusion throughout the Mediterranean.
CathyV.com. Lebanese Grape Leaves. recipezaar.com. Dec. 2007. 31 Apr. 2008 <http://www.recipezaar.com/?21001>.
Gaifyllia, Nancy. Dolmathakia me Kima: Stuffed Grape Leaves with Meat & Rice. about.com. Jan. 2008. 31 Apr. 2008 <http://greekfood.about.com/?od/?appetizerssalads/?r/?leavesmeatrice.htm>.
Dia De Los Muertos
It takes place between the evening of October 31st and the morning of November 1st. What you do is set out the favorite items, favorite foods, and a picture of the deceased. You could also put out religious items, or items that have sentimental value to the person. A critical part of it is that the spirits of the deceased are supposed to come back during this time period. Its normal for the family to come over the evening of November 1st to talk about the person. Stories, memories, and its also an opportunity for the children who didnt know the person to get to learn about them. Its about keeping yourself connected to your past. I enjoy it because it gives me an idea of where my mother came from.
I think that Dia de los Muertos is a great idea for a holiday. I appreciate this holiday because it is about respecting your ancestors, essentially. In addition the holiday teaches people not to fear death, but rather to embrace it, and to respect those that came before you. The only part of the holiday that I find slightly disturbing is the fact that the spirit of the deceased are supposed to come back. That scares me.
This holiday could be analyzed by the time of year that it falls during and how that is related to the holiday. During that time period, Late October early November, things are beginning to die off, and there lies a relation to death. If you look at the year in terms of the human life cycle, by the time that November comes around the year is in the later part of its life, thus another connection to death.
This example also comes up in Of Corpse which confirms the principals of the holiday that Melissa described. The book goes further in depth to describe the loose connection between the Catholic Church and the holiday. As well the book further details the rituals that take place. (202)
Congdon, Kristin, and Peter Narvaez. Of Corpse. Logan, UT: Utah State University
Greedy chokes puppy.
I received this entry from my grandmother. She is Jamaican, and she grew up on the island. She learned this saying from my great-grandmother. She says that as a little girl growing up in Jamaica people would use this saying all the time. She says that it means that if you try to take too much you wont swallow it. She says that it is also a metaphor for greed in everyday life.
I agree wholly with my grandmothers analysis. I think that the saying is pretty self explanatory. It could be taken literally or figuratively. Extended into a proper sentence it could be written as, A greedy puppy will choke. This proverb could easily be related to the popular proverb, Dont bite off more than you can chew, which is also a reference to greed. Both proverbs lead to the overall meaning that greed in any aspect of life will lead to eventual, sometimes painful downfall.
Why the proverb refers to a puppy is something of a mystery however. But having been to Jamaica and seeing how the dogs are treated I have some idea. The dogs there are less pet than wild animal. They arent pampered as they are in the states. When feeding our house guard dog Judo, I noticed that he was fed entirely table scraps (old oatmeal, chicken bones, veggies, greens, bread, apple cores, ect) in an old white bucket. With such a rough diet a greedy dog could easily choke, as I suspect many have. This is my hypothesis on the phrase.
Theres a hand signal that we do. Basically, its an Alpha sign. Your thumb and pinky finger are extended, the others are curled in.
It has a secret meaning that is undisclosed to the public. The meaning is only disclosed to the members of the frat. Minority college students can readily identify the sign with the Alpha Phi Alpha Organization. I learned it from older frat members. Its a nationwide signal. Its usually readily identifiable by black Greeks (black frat and sorority members). When posing for pictures, or trying to flag someone down on a college campus, we do it. Its also meant to identify yourself as Alpha, its a privilege that you earn through pledging. I was happy to finally be able to do it.
The hand signals that African-American fraternities, and sororities do are very special to them. Each of the Divine Nine (the 9 major African-American fraternities/sororities) has their own hand signal. These are displayed mostly when they get together, and on a regular basis as a greeting. I agree with Jeremiah that the sign is easily identifiable, as are those of the other groups. I think that its good that they have something that identifies them as part of an organization that they worked very hard to be a part of. It should be noted as well that anyone who is not a member of the black Greek community, and mimics their hand signals, is asking for trouble. That is horribly taboo in the black Greek community.
Depending on which one of your hands is itching, you will either get money or give money away.
Suzanne told me this one while laughing and calling it ridiculous. She said, Its so stupid some of the things that my parents believe in. She doesnt believe in this superstition. Like many other habits/superstitions that she has learned, she acquired this one during childhood, from her Belizean parents. She also added that as the superstition goes, if you itch the itch then the omen becomes null and void.
I think that this superstition is not true in the slightest. However, how would I know? Who doesnt scratch their itches just on reflex alone? When something itches it is only natural to scratch it immediately, as a matter of comfort, even while asleep people itch themselves. This suggests that it is merely subconscious. I wouldnt know if this ite is true or not because I have never actually tested it.
I think that this superstition deals with the worlds stigmatism of left vs. right. According to a wikipedia article about Right-handedness somewhere between 70-90% of the world is right handed. The ariticle goes on to note that, The left hand is used in times of inauspiciousness, as a sign of disrespect, and for wiping oneself after using the bathroom. In Islam as well, one is required to use the left hand for tasks such as wiping oneself after using the bathroom, and the right hand for eating. In addition the word right also has positive connotations, and can be used to reply to something in the affirmative. So it is only right that a culture with a stigmatism towards things that are right would believe that the right hand brings in money(good), and the left hand loses money(bad).
Right-handedness wikipedia.org. 14 apr. 2008. 30 Apr. 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right -handed>.
Muslim Restroom Etiquette. Truthandgrace.com. Jan 2002. 30 Apr. 2008.